When will the Angels get a cap in the Hall?
OK, so maybe you think you don’t care about which cap a player’s wearing on his Hall of Fame plaque. But you might care if you were an Angels fan! Since the franchise is more than 50 years old and still doesn’t have a cap on a plaque in the Hall.
Or maybe not. But if I were a young Angels fan, I would care. And I’ll bet the Angels care, just a little — even if Angels executive Tim Mead is taking the high road, according to Tyler Kepner in The New York Times:
“We don’t lose sleep over it,” said Mead, vice president for communications and a former assistant general manager. “But it would be nice to go to Cooperstown and see the A. That day will come.”Article continues below ...
The day came for another early 1960s expansion team, the Houston Astros, when Craig Biggio was elected to the Hall of Fame on Jan. 6. Biggio will be the first player to wear an Astros cap on his plaque, a long wait for a team that joined the majors in 1962, as the Colt .45s.
The Angels are a year older than the Astros, having joined the American League as an expansion team in 1961. Other current teams not represented on a plaque are much newer, including Arizona (1998), Colorado (1993), Miami (1993), Seattle (1977), Tampa Bay (1998) and Washington (2005).
The Mariners, of course, are getting their Hall of Famer soon. If not Randy Johnson this year — and really, he should go in as a Diamondback, as should Craig Counsell — then Ken Griffey Jr. next year. Which would leave the Angels, Rockies, and Marlins as the longest-standing franchises without a cap in the Hall. And of course the Angels are 32 years older than the Rockies and Marlins.
Before getting into the Angels, just a few words about the Rockies and Marlins, and I guess the Rays . . .
Tampa Bay’s Hall of Fame prospects can be completely summed up in six syllables: Evan Longoria. While Longoria’s 2014 was somewhat disappointing and he’s never finished higher than sixth in MVP balloting, he’s now been a tremendous player for seven seasons. Just four more Longoria-type seasons would make him a viable candidate, and a typical career tail would make him an easy choice. It’s easy to imagine Longoria getting elected at some point between 2028 and 2035. But if not Longoria, then the franchise’s first Hall of Famer might well be representing a completely different place. A long, long time from now.
The Marlins . . . man, I have no idea. A few wags have suggested that Mike Piazza should enter the Hall as a Marlin, which I think is a tremendous idea . . . except I’ve not detected a great deal of whimsy in either Piazza or the Hall of Fame, so we can probably rule out this delightful idea. I’ve seen Gary Sheffield mentioned, but really? Sheffield was a Marlin for only four full seasons, and just one of those was great. I suppose you could argue that Sheffield belongs with the Marlins by default, since he played more for them than anyone, and did win a World Series there. But Sheffield’s one of those rare players who really doesn’t seem to belong to any particular franchise; rather, he belongs to the world, like Coca-Cola and Michael Jackson. Oh, and also he’s not getting elected for a long time, if ever. Which means the Marlins’ best shot is probably Giancarlo Stanton, sometime after Longoria.
It’s roughly the same for the Rockies. Todd Helton and Larry Walker both have outside shots, but otherwise it’ll be a long wait until Troy Tulowitzki’s eligible. Just as with Longoria, with Tulowitzki it’s largely just a matter of staying reasonably healthy for another five or six years.
Now, about the Angels. Does it go without saying that it’s sort of ridiculous that Ryan went into the Hall as a Texas Ranger? Ryan obviously burnished his considerable reputation with the Rangers, pitching well into his middle 40s. But he won only 51 games and pitched only 840 innings as a Ranger, compared to 138 wins and 2,181 innings with the Angels. The best argument for Ryan as a Ranger? If you combine his time with the Rangers and the Astros, you’ve got 157 wins and nearly 2,700 innings. But that’s more an argument for the Astros than the Rangers. It seems the Hall just put a Rangers cap on Ryan’s plaque because that’s what he wanted. I do believe a player’s opinion should count. Just not this much.
Anyway, the piece mentions three possibilities for the Angels: Vladimir Guerrero, Mike Trout and Mike Scioscia.
On the off-chance Guerrero’s elected, he’ll probably join Andre Dawson and Gary Carter (and maybe Tim Raines) as Expos, since a) he played more for the Expos, and b) he’s said he wants to be inducted as an Expo (granted, that’s from a second-hand account).
Trout . . . well, sure. There’s no such thing as a 23-year-old sure thing, but if Trout’s career follows the expected path, he’ll obviously have the numbers. And he’s under contract with the Angels through his ninth full season in the majors, which means he would almost certainly wind up playing more for the Angels than any other franchise.
But that still means an election in the 2030s, and I don’t think the Angels will have to wait that long. With just two or three more good seasons, Mike Scioscia will be comfortably within the range of Hall of Fame managers, at least in terms of regular-season wins and winning percentage. But I suspect that Lou Piniella and Jim Leyland will eventually be elected. And if you elect Piniella and Leyland, then you almost have to elect Scioscia. And maybe well before the 2030s, depending of course upon when Scioscia retires.
You know what, though? I’ve got a dark horse in this race: Bobby Grich. He was just so good that I can imagine a revamped, sabermetrics-friendly Hall of Fame committee someday reconsidering Grich, and even electing him. After all, Dick Allen, who also received very little support from the BBWAA voters his first time around, was nearly elected by a select committee last month. And Grich was just as good as Allen, probably a little better.